The pandemic has been ongoing for 18 months, leaving behind so many consequences physically and mentally. The past few weeks, we have received phone calls from so many patients about broken teeth, at an alarming rate.  This leaves us wonder if come of these cases are actually a manifestation of pandemic stress. Why are they related and what should you do if the unexpected happens to you or your loved ones?

Can stress affect you physically?

Absolutely! Stress is any internal or external stimulus that can evoke your body’s biological response. Therefore, depending on the stress you have, the changes it leaves in your body can be high or low, short term or long term. Some of the most common signs of stress include:

– headache

– chest pain

– fatigue

– stomach upset

– sleep problem

– heart disease

– autoimmune diseases

Can stress affect your teeth?

Of course! Are you a stress eater? I am surely one! When I am stressed, I tend to pick crunchier food and tend to not chew carefully either. There are more and more patients breaking their teeth over some favorite snacks like cashew, almond, popcorn, etc.  They are small enough and hard enough to fall into a tooth’s existing crack lines and wedge it apart. When you are stressed, you also tend to tense your muscles and clench/grind your teeth more often. I often catch myself clenching my teeth so hard under the mask (It is very uncomfortable wearing N95 mask all day long). To a lesser extent, stress often pushes you out of your normal home-care routine.  The rate of caries and gum disease have also noticeably increased during the past few months. 

What to do if you break your tooth?

Although we all don’t want it to happen, we need to prepare for the situation. If your tooth breaks, please DO NOT hesitate to call us or text us right away. 

– Our phone number is 253.941.6365 (on business hours)

– Our text number is  253-200-4565(on/outside business hours)

We will try to see you as soon as possible to determine which treatment option is the best in your specific case. Sometimes, the chip is pretty small and doesn’t affect esthetics or function. In that case we just need to smooth out the rough edge if any and call it a day. In other cases, we can easily place a filling and stop the sensitivity coming from the exposed tooth structure. When the broken part is too big, we may have to place a crown to protect your tooth from further damage. 

A lot of patients worry if they will need a root canal treatment because of the trauma. Unfortunately, your chance of needing a root canal treatment is indeed higher than normal. A trauma that is big enough to break a tooth of course can damage your nerve. It can take a few weeks to develop symptoms or it can take a few years. I always tell my patients “Sadly, I can’t predict the future and I can’t predict when you will need a root canal treatment but I do hope the day will never come”. A filling or a crown will give your tooth the best chance of healing so please let us help you right away instead of risking the tooth break down more and become unrestorable. Meanwhile, stay safe and protect your smile!